Our family’s reading binge continued into May. I finished eight books last month, including The Spiritually Vibrant Home by Don Everts. And the following list doesn’t include any of the books my husband and children read on their own. Read on for our impressions of these recent reads.
8 Great Books we read in May:
The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
I began reading through CS Lewis’s classic work, The Chronicles of Narnia, with my grandchildren this spring. We finished the first book in the series last month.
I like The Magician’s Nephew better with every reading.
When his Uncle Andrew makes his playmate Polly disappear by magic, brave young Digory is compelled to rescue her. Thus, both children find themselves in the Wood between the Worlds, where the rest of their adventures begin.
In one desolate world, they meet an evil queen. Having destroyed her own civilization, she now sets her sights on Earth. Digory and Polly have to think fast to get her out of London and back where she belongs. They succeed in the former, but not in the latter. Which is how the White Witch first came to the newly created land of Narnia.
Suffering is Never for Nothing by Elisabeth Elliot
I first read Elisabeth Elliot in college. Her written words so resonated with me that, when I later faced an agonizing decision, I wrote to her to ask for advice. Counsel she gladly gave in a handwritten letter sent by return mail a few weeks later. A letter I still treasure to this day. How different my life might have been had I not received — and followed — this godly woman’s wise, Biblically-grounded counsel!
So when I saw Elisabeth’s name on the byline of Suffering is Never for Nothing, I snatched it up immediately. Based on a series of lectures she delivered some years ago at a small conference and now published posthumously, this book expands on an idea Elisabeth alluded to in her letter to me: the role suffering plays in the life of a believer. How God uses our suffering to conform us to the image of Christ and to teach us total reliance on Him. And how suffering, rightly understood and borne by His grace, can be transformed into a sacrifice of praise.
I was blessed by this timely volume and think you will be, too.
Thriving in Love and Money by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
Shaunti Feldhahn is another of my favorite authors, so I was thrilled to learn she and her husband recently released a new book, too.
I love all the statistics and science they include in their books, as well as the practical advice for Christian living. In both respects, Thriving in Love and Money made a strong showing. It was different than any of the Feldhahn books I’ve read before, but every bit as engaging. It examines the different ways men and women typically think about money, and offers tips to help couples get on the same page where financed are concerned. Reading this account stirred up in me a whole new appreciation for my husband and all he does to keep our family financially afloat.
The Spiritually Vibrant Home by Don Everts
According to research recently done by the Barna group, spiritually vibrant households share three things in common:
They pray together over a variety of issues that touch their lives. (This goes beyond reciting formulaic prayers at the dinner table). They regularly have meaningful spiritual conversations with one another, especially at mealtimes. And they practice intentional hospitality, inviting people from outside their family circle into their lives and homes.
The author refers to these three familial traits as “messy prayers, loud tables, and open doors” and examines the power they have in faith formation. The study found that the last — open doors — seemed particularly predictive as to whether children would carry their faith into adulthood. That’s good to know. And worth finding creative ways to extend hospitality, even in this age of coronavirus restrictions and social distancing.
The Spiritually Vibrant Home is fascinating reading, if a little dry in parts. It made me grateful that messy prayers, loud tables, and open doors have been a daily part of our family life for years. But it also inspired me to keep at it. “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Tom Sawyer was one of my dad’s favorite books. He loved it so much, he’d re-read it once a year, the same way I re-watch It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas.
I like Tom Sawyer, too, though I’ve not reached my father’s level of super-fandom. Yet. But we recently realized a few of our younger kids were not yet familiar with Tom’s antics. They knew nothing of Tom’s tricking his buddies into whitewashing the fence or witnessing a murder in the graveyard at midnight. Or winning a Bible memory award or running away from home. Or attending his own funeral or searching for hidden treasure.
So we listened to the audiobook on a recent trip to Hot Springs, Arkansas. We giggled and gasped and guffawed together. Several parts of the story had us holding our breath and gripping our seats, white-knuckled, in suspense.
And I must say, though I enjoyed Tom Sawyer as a child, I appreciate the book ever so much more now that I’m an adult. Mark Twain’s social commentary is just so funny. My husband and I laughed so hard in parts of the story that our sides ached. And Twain’s description of the steady dripping of water through limestone cave formations over eons of time was so beautifully written it brought tears to our eyes.
Redeeming How We Talk by Ken Wytsma and A.J. Swoboda
I’m not sure what I was expecting when I ordered this title, but it wasn’t what I got. The scope of this book is much broader than a simple entreaty to be careful in choosing our words. Authors cover such varied topics as propaganda, church unity, the challenge of connecting in the digital age, the history of information, and the mechanics of hearing.
I don’t agree with all of the authors’ conclusions — nor, perhaps more importantly, with all of their presuppositions. But the book is well written, and I benefited from reading it. I found most of it very interesting. And the remaining sections challenged me to clarify my own thinking concerning areas of disagreement.
The Legend of Annie Murphy by Frank Peretti
One of my boys started reading this book aloud to me months ago. But then, much like the title character in this story, the book simply disappeared.
It eventually resurfaced again — at my grandkids’ house. Another of my sons — their father — had spotted it on my end table and taken it home to read aloud to his family. They loved it, too.
By the time we got the book back, my younger son was absorbed in a new series, so he didn’t finish it. He found the time-traveling storyline a little corny. But I read the rest of it. It wasn’t as riveting as Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea or Escape from the Island of Aquarius, but it was good enough that I wanted to find out what happened.
Bottom line: If you are new to Frank Peretti’s Cooper Kid Adventure books, don’t start with this one. But don’t avoid it, either, if the earlier titles leave you wanting more.
Blessed Assurance by Jennifer Flanders
The final book I read last month was a book I wrote, as well.
God calls Christians to bear spiritual fruit. He intends for our lives to be characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and other such wholesome traits.
Entitled Blessed Assurance, my newest devotional journal explores what such fruit looks like in the lives of those who’ve put their hope and trust in God.
In it, you’ll find writing prompts, word studies, plus beautiful vintage artwork and Bible verses on almost every page. It makes a great gift, keepsake, or add-on to your personal quiet time with the Lord. Check out the other titles in this series by clicking on the image below
And that’s it for The Spiritually Vibrant Home and the rest of my May book reviews. Check out our Recent Reads page for more titles of interst.
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